HATTIESBURG, MS. - This week's Kindness In Action recipient is Extra Table of Hattiesburg. The entire organization makes it their mission to feed food insecure people and families across the state of Mississippi.
Founder of Extra Table and local restaurateur Robert St. John said hunger is a real problem in the United States and its only on the rise.
“In Mississippi 670,00 Mississippians are what the government calls insecure" said Robert. "Over 200,000 of those are kids who eat a school breakfast and school lunch, and who don’t eat again until the next day."
An idea sparked in 2009 after Robert received a call from Edwards Street Fellowship asking him to help fill their empty shelves.
"They were feeding 800 families a month at that time, and had completely ran out of food and I mean there shelves were bare" Robert said.
He added, "And they called and said 'Is there any way you can help us out?' and I said sure.” Extra Table said 21% of the entire state of Mississippi has to choose between paying a bill or eating dinner.
“What you have are a lot of single moms working who are holding down two jobs trying to keep their kids who are trying to keep their supplemental health" said Robert.
He said there is a misconception about people who are hungry, "You got seniors, veterans, its really across the spectrum, a lot of them are neighbors that we might not even know.
Extra Table partners with 20 agencies and food pantries across the state to provide not just food, but health food. Robert said 100% of its donations goes entirely back to the community.
"We ship all low fat protein, low sugar fruits, healthy grains, and we ship them right to the door. So it is very easy on these agencies. We cover five on the coast all the way to Tupelo and the Delta.”
The organizations goal is to end hunger not only in Mississippi but across the country.
Robert said, “It is one of those things that’s like, well this is what I am supposed to do."
He continued, "I am a guy that sells Filet Mignon to people to make a living, but I think I am supposed to be the guy that gives can tuna to the people who really need it.”
To learn more about Extra Table you can click here.